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Saturday 19 August 2017

Mum strangled by ex was conned into date

Sonia Blount had been in a brief relationship with Mr Locke
Sonia Blount had been in a brief relationship with Mr Locke
Murder accused Eric Locke

A man who set up a fake Facebook profile so he could meet his ex-girlfriend strangled her with his hands and cable ties he had bought earlier that day after she saw the items and screamed, a jury has heard.

Sonia Blount (31) had wondered if Eric Locke (35), who she called a "proper fruit loop", was behind the Facebook account.

She asked 'Shane Cully' for a selfie and was satisfied from the picture the man she was meeting was not Mr Locke.

Mr Locke has admitted he caused the death of Ms Blount at The Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014, but says he did not mean to kill her and will be pleading the defence of diminished responsibility.

He had been in a brief relationship with Ms Blount and did not take the break-up well.

Detective Garda Camon Ryan told prosecutor Remy Farrell he began interviewing Mr Locke on February 16, 2014, after he handed himself in to gardai.

He told officers he had suffered with depression for years, but meeting Ms Blount had brought him "back up".

He said the relationship had ended about four weeks earlier and it took him "back down".

Mr Locke claimed he set up the fake 'Shane Cully' profile because he wanted to talk to her, but she was ignoring him at work and had blocked him on Facebook.

They had arranged to meet in The Plaza Hotel, and he told gardai Ms Blount got "a shock" when he walked into the room.

He said he wanted to "frighten her and talk to her" but denied he wanted to murder her.

He said she did not ask him to leave, but wanted them to leave together.

"I thought that, once we got to reception, she'd scream and that's what stopped me," he said.

Earlier that day, he had gone into town and bought a Stanley blade, pellet gun, cable ties and masking tape and brought them with him to the hotel room.

Mr Locke said Ms Blount was "terrified" when she saw the items.

"She was frantic. We had a fight and it happened. I used my hands on her neck," he said.

He pointed to the scratches on his face when asked if Sonia had done anything when he strangled her.

"She said: 'Eric, what are you doing?' but her voice was low," he told gardai.

He initially denied using anything other than his hands.

However, he admitted using the cable of a phone charger "briefly", after a bloodstained charger was shown to him.

He also said he had put her top in her mouth because he panicked.

Threatened

Aisling Halloran worked with Ms Blount and Mr Locke.

She said they seemed to like each other but they broke up after he called her a "slut" at a Vicar Street concert.

She said Ms Blount was in "such a state" when Mr Locke threatened to kill himself, but she "wanted to help him, as that's the type of person she was".

On February 14, 2014, Ms Halloran said Ms Blount told her she was meeting 'Shane Cully' that weekend. It was just "a casual thing", she said.

Ms Halloran said she asked Ms Blount if the person she was meeting could be Mr Locke pretending to be someone else.

Ms Blount admitted the "thought had crossed her mind" but she had asked 'Shane Cully' to send her a selfie and she was satisfied the person in the picture was not Mr Locke.

In her evidence, Ms Blount's sister, Claire Reddan, said Sonia had been in a relationship with her son's father, Lee, for three years, but he was "very controlling".

The relationship was "very on and off" and ended when Lee went to Canada in August 2013.

She said her sister started dating Mr Locke in December 2013 but it was "casual", "nothing major".

Ms Reddan told the court Ms Blount broke up with him following an argument and she told her she was "not going down that road again".

When Mr Locke went missing and threatened suicide in January 2014, Ms Reddan said Ms Blount was worried sick about it, was not sleeping and could not eat.

She told the jury that Ms Blount became concerned about Mr Locke's behaviour at work and was going to ask to change shifts, but hesitated doing it because she "didn't want to get him into trouble or lose his job".

Ms Reddan said she saw a Facebook post her sister made on February 9, 2014, saying "the s**t is going to hit the fan".

She knew it was about Mr Locke so she rang Ms Blount, who told her he was "a proper fruit loop" and he "kept looking at her in work and it freaked her out".

Depression

Detective Garda Kieran O'Neill said he found a letter sent by Mr Locke to Ms Blount in her bedroom after he searched it.

In the letter, dated January 24, 2014, Mr Locke again apologised for his behaviour after the Vicar Street gig.

He also told her he suffered from depression.

He said he was getting counselling to deal with his issues.

He said he was "a little disappointed and surprised" that she was not standing by him.

He also told her that if she had sent him a suicide text and he had known she was suffering from depression he "simply could not have walked away".

He signed off the letter saying he hoped they all "found happiness", telling her "no one deserves it more".

The trial continues on Monday.

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